Tales of Eternia

The PSP has been racking up many games in many different genres, but the traditional Japanese RPG genre still doesn’t have any solid releases in the US. While Tales of Eternia doesn’t have a US release date yet, it is the most likely candidate to be brought over of the RPG’s on the PSP in Japan since it is a port of a game that has already been localized for English audiences. Tales of Eternia is a port of Tales of Destiny 2 that was released towards the end of the PS1’s lifespan in both Japan and the US. Many people overlooked it at the time due to the release of the PS2 and Dreamcast consoles, so Namco is giving gamers another chance to experience the game, this time on PSP.

Tales of Eternia isn’t about big budget pre-rendered graphics like many PS1 RPG’s, but rather its foundation is an interesting story with likable characters and a great battle system. The important parts of the game translate over to the PSP flawlessly and do a good job at bringing back that great old school charm. However, you won’t find any new content with the conversion, as the game is pretty much a direct port of the PS1 game.

The story starts off as a mysterious girl with purple hair falls from the sky near a town where two locals, Reid and Farrah, find her in a field nearby. Though the girl doesn’t speak their language, eventually they figure out her name is Meredy (with a pet named Quickie) and where she came from. It turns out she is from another planet named Celestia, which is on a collision course with Reid and Farrah’s planet Inferia. Their only chance to stop the devastation before them is to search the world for elementals; and so the story begins.

The game plays exactly the same as it does on PS1, consisting of a mix of third person adventuring, story sequences, and random battles. There are some area’s where you’ll be able to see the enemies before you engage in battle, but the majority of it is handled randomly. As you’re walking around the world map or dungeons you’ll have the option to make your characters camp which gives you animated portraits as they converse about their current situation. These sequences really give you a good impression of each character’s motives and are used to explain the details of the story as it unfolds.

The menus have been tweaked slightly to work better with the 16×9 format of the PSP screen, but fundamentally they still work the same. Most first generation games don’t do a good job of knocking loading times down, but throughout Tales of Eternia you’ll be hard pressed to find a loading sequence that takes longer than a couple seconds, which is quite refreshing with the current loading situation with PSP.

Fans of Namco’s Tales series will be instantly familiar with the battle system in Tales of Eternia, as it uses the much more action orientated approach, in line with what you would expect having played past Tales games that keeps you on your toes. The battles take place on a 2D field, where you must run towards the enemies and attack them much like you would in a 2D action game. You take control of the main character Reid and pull off different types of attacks with the face buttons on the PSP. You’ll also be able to assign specific attacks to button combinations for ease of use. The game’s AI controls the other characters in your party, so they’ll take care of themselves for the most part. You are in charge of customizing the strategy of the AI characters however, like have them save magic power, be aggressive, or be defensive, among other options.

For the most part the graphics hold up surprisingly well for an older game including backgrounds with a beautiful hand painted look and nicely detailed character sprites. The character animation doesn’t hold up as well, as the animations are somewhat jerky and don’t consist of many frames. The world map hasn’t been upgraded much either and features decidedly PS1 polygon quality mountains and trees. For the most part the game features excellent use of colors to bring the rich fantasy world to life. The sound translates over very well also, with crisp clear sound and full speech for all the characters.

Tales of Eternia was just recently released in Japan, but unfortunately we don’t have a US release date yet. Since all the voices and text have already been translated for the PS1 version of this game, it seems likely Namco would bring this game over to add to the slim pickings RPG gamers in the US will have, lets keep our fingers crossed anyway. Stay tuned to PSP Advanced as we find out more on this game in the future.